Monday, 16 February 2009

A tasty daal - and a narrow escape

We all know that cats like kooky corners and unlikely hidyholes, but sometimes they don't think of their own self-preservation. Scooty is generally too bright white and alarmed to get himself caught, but I am always worried about shutting small, stealthy and tabby-brown Mausel in the wardrobe. She has already proved her capacity for initiative beyond all laws of physics and leverage - she can somehow through extreme doggedness (surely cattedness?) get the sliding door of the wardrobe open no matter how carefully I close it, but I still worry. Last night both my fears and the strength of my emotional bond with my little lap-cat were demonstrated. I opened the airing cupboard door on my way to bed, and she hopped in. I dithered about, went to bed, read, turned the light off, started drifting off to sleep. Then I awoke to a strange, brief banging noise. It was unusual enough to make me alert, but certainly not feline-sounding. I suddenly had a flash of intuition that I had absent-mindedly closed the airing cupboard door again on my way upstairs, and couldn't rest until I'd checked. I'm so glad I did, as I had shut the poor little thing in, though she seemed perfectly happy and purry to see me when I opened the door. I dread to think of how hot it would have got in there when the hot water tank came on in the morning. I'm sure she wouldn't have been the first cat to get caught in a nice warm cupboard - in fact I know that Vet Mum and Dad's cat has spent at least one night in theirs - and has also accidentally leapt from an upstairs window and survived, but still. She is stretched out on my lap as I type so she has evidently put it behind her entirely.

All this is entirely unconnected with the tasty daal I made last week. I have become completely converted to the food columns in the Saturday Guardian recently. I particularly like Dan Lepard's How to Bake column and really enjoy reading Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's even if the recipes are often a bit meaty for me (though not always - you can rely on Hugh to pick a good topic regardless of food type). I really want to like Ottolenghi's column as the restaurant and cookbook are both super-trendy, and it's all about vegetarian food. But I all too often find the recipes overly complicated and sometimes not too healthy and move on. Last weekend though I knew immediately the recipe was a winner - spiced lentils with cucumber yogurt. We both love a good daal - it's tasty, healthy and satisfying, and what's more, yogurty dips are the only way The Scientist will eat cucumber. We even had some fresh coriander lying around after making sweet potato falafel. I made it that very night, and it was very good indeed - tangy, tasty, filling, comforting - I could go on. I used curry powder instead of curry leaves, and missed out the optional asfeotida and fenugreek as we didn't have any, but I did the rest exactly as stated. The Scientist ate his with sausages, and I had mine with wild and basmati rice. The next night I had it atop a grilled portabello mushroom it was yum like that too. I think that it would make great soup too, with a bit more liquid added. I opened this weekend's Guardian with new hopes - and have cut out the noodle salad recipe to ponder some more. I may yet be a convert.

Spiced rice with cucumber yogurt, by Ottolenghi: recipe here

1 comment:

Johanna said...

You make me wish we got the guardian - we don't have much in the food pages of our weekend newspapers - ottolenghi always sounds interesting - would love some of that dahl

Glad you found your pussy cat - I worry most when ours is out late but I remember when my mum and dad's black dog was a pup and we lost her one afternoon and finally found in the shadows of the steps by the back door - totally camouflagued